Stories are dangerous #LukeActs2014

The elders ask Stephen to answer the false charges against him, and Stephen tells them a story. But it really is not just a story. It is Genesis and Exodus read through Isaiah and the prophets.

It is also the worst defense speech since Plato’s apology.

The chapter brings to mind all those contemporary theologians who remind us that we are shaped by narratives. Our identity as Christians is — they tell us — embodied by the stories we carry and the stories that we inhabit. We are the people who explain what Jesus meant when he talked about no stone standing on another by talking about Abraham.

A large part of our preaching and teaching in the church is an effort to get people to understand that this is their story, too. They are living the story that began in the Bible — and ends in the Bible.

But the rub, of course, is that the way we tell the story puts us at odds with other ways of telling the story. Those men picked up rocks to murder Stephen because their narrative ran differently than Stephen’s.

Stories are powerful and dangerous things. We do not tell them lightly if we are wise.

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One thought on “Stories are dangerous #LukeActs2014

  1. There is only power in what we teach if we speak in wisdom and spirit. And the “story” we tell is only dangerous when we become bold enough to go out among the people with the “story”. Stephen was stoned because he preached the truth and stood his ground. We would do well to follow his example and take our stand regardless of the persecutions, the false accusations and stones that will come. Jesus promised, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:10-12).

    Stephen’s words of truth hit hard and cut deep. How easily Stephen could have avoided “offending” his audience. Stephen could have walked away alive by compromising the truth and himself. ( Oh how very many within the mainline denominations are choosing this path.) Stephen taught the truth, the truth his audience needed most and he applied it plainly and boldly. Stephen was stoned because its message cut his audience directly to the heart.

    Those who opposed Stephen could not stand up before him. Stephen had the truth. But even more importantly he used the truth. But he also had more. Stephen had wisdom. He had wisdom in the truth, wisdom in teaching the truth and wisdom in using the truth. Stephen had spirit. Stephen’s preaching was not a scholarly story delivered from an ivy tower. Stephen spoke with wisdom and spirit. He spoke the truth with power and he reached and converted people.

    All other “speak” is just babel.

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